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The Secure Shredding Industry’s Almighty Certificate of Destruction

In the professional shredding industry there is a document known as the Certificate of Destruction which is given to customers utilizing shredding companies as “proof” that documents have been destroyed. While these COD’s are used by virtually all shredding companies, the similarities end there. There is no universal form for a COD, which can create confusion for you, the consumer, when shopping for a reputable shredding company. Just what does the COD mean anyway? Probably not what you thought it meant.

Many shredding clients mistakenly take the COD as proof that they have washed their hands of any liability for the documents that are being destroyed. Unfortunately, this is logistically impossible, for many reasons. Even if a COD is itemized, listing, say, all employee records from 1990-1995, it is obviously impossible for the shredding contractor to know for sure whether each and every employee record for that time period was included in the documents he was given. And shredding companies don’t pretend to know that either.

A standard clause in contracts for all NAID members (National Association for Information Destruction, which every reputable shredding company should be a member of) clearly states that itemized lists of materials submitted for destruction are not proof that such documents were actually included in the materials submitted. This clause protects the shredding company, but it also protects the consumer, because it is eliminating any false notions that the COD is in itself proof that particular documents were destroyed. The clause goes on to state that if specific proof is needed, special arrangements need to be made in advance, with special terms and fees.

So what, then makes up a good COD, and what should you look for when selecting your shredding service? Here are some excellent qualities of a Certificate of Destruction :

  • A unique serial or transaction number
  • A clear statement of the terms and conditions
  • Statement of fiduciary responsibility
  • The date and location of the destruction of materials
  • The witness to the destruction (a signature, which could be another employee or representative of the shredding company, or representative of the client if they wish)

What does all of this mean? Do Certificate of Destructions provide any protection to the consumer? Actually, they are very important documents that protect both the contractor and the consumer, by stating upfront what is and what is not a responsibility of the shredding company. And ultimately, it all leads back to this: choosing a reliable, reputable shredding company provides you not only with excellent service, but peace of mind as well.


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